Saturday, March 8, 2014

Remembering Sheila MacRae

When most people think of The Honeymooners, the sitcom, they think of Art Carney, Jackie Gleason, Audrey Meadows, and Joyce Randolph.

I also think of Sheila MacRae. The aforementioned four are, of course, the original cast members.
When Jackie Gleason decided to revive the series in the Sixties, only Art Carney came with him. Audrey Meadows had no desire to revive her role of the long suffering Alice Kramden 
Joyce Randolph, who never really desired an acting career, was, at this time, content to be a mother and a wife.

Enter Jane Kean and Sheila MacRae.
MacRae replaced Audrey Meadows as the highly entertaining housewife of Ralph, the amusing bus driver, from 1966-70 on The Jackie Gleason Show.I have many great memories growing up watching that show with my parents.
MacRae played Alice Kramden on 52 episodes of The Jackie Gleason Show. From 1966, The Honeymooners sketches, which often featured musical numbers, were played out on the CBS variety series The Jackie Gleason Show
Audrey Meadows still remains best-known for the role.
For 26 years, MacRae was married to Gordon MacRae, singer and actor best known for starring in the movie versions of the musicals Oklahoma! and Carousel.The MacRaes performed as a duo for nearly a decade in nightclubs, on television and in concerts across the country, and appeared on “The Ed Sullivan Show” on Feb. 23, 1964, the same night the Beatles made their third appearance on the show.
Shortly after they married in 1941, Mr. MacRae was signed by Warner Bros. Pictures and the couple moved to Los Angeles.
In the 1950s and 1960s, Ms. MacRae acted in a few movies and appeared on “I Love Lucy” and other television shows. She left show business briefly after becoming pregnant with the couple’s first child, but returned to perform with her husband, she wrote in her 1992 memoir, “Mother of the Year,” because his drinking and gambling had begun to spiral out of control and she wanted to stay close so she could keep an eye on him.

(Her memoir was named for an award she received the year her marriage began falling apart.)(Source The New York Times Obit)

Kean passed on a few months ago.

Sheila has now gone on to join her cast.
She passed on earlier this week after a long illness. ENGLEWOOD, N.J. (CBS) -- Sheila MacRae starred on the Broadway stage and in films, yet it was her small-screen role as the tolerant and brassy wife of a Brooklyn bus driver for which she is most remembered.

Her daughter, actress Heather MacRae, said that her mother had undergone surgery a few weeks ago and was recovering well and without any complications up until this week.I was saddened when I heard the news, but what a life. She also lived to be 92.

She also appeared in such films as Pretty Baby (1950), Caged (1950), Backfire (1950) and Sex and the Single Girl (1964).

On television, MacRae played herself in an episode of I Love Lucy, "The Fashion Show" in which she asks Lucy to participate in a Hollywood fashion show organized by Don Loper and featuring actors' wives as models.
I only met Sheila once. Years ago, Joe Franklin opened a restaurant, Joe Franklin's Memory Lane. I was asked to appear as Carol Channing. Also in attendance that night were Tony Curtis, Soupy Sales AND Sheila MacRae. She was gracious enough to come over and spend a little time with me.She had appeared as Carol in her nightclub act and was very complimentary and I will always appreciate that.
My one degrees of separation is that I know Heather, of whom I am a big fan.
Today, I celebrate Sheila MacRae. She did impressions. She also did a dynamite Carol Channing AND Barbra Streisand!

MacRae went on to have her own short-lived eponymous television series (The Sheila MacRae Show) and to play "Madelyn Richmond" on the long-running soap opera General Hospital.
Born Sheila Stephens in Middlesex County, England on Sept. 24, 1921, she immigrated with her family to the United States during WWII. 
They eventually settled in Long Island, New York and she began acting at a local playhouse.
She married Gordon MacRae, who starred in Oklahoma! and Carousel, in 1941 and they had four children. The duo took their singing and sketches on the road and performed together at a variety of venues, including The Ed Sullivan Show when The Beatles also made an appearance. They divorced in 1967 and he passed away in 1986. Following her divorce from Gordon MacRae, she married Ronald Wayne, who was a producer on Gleason's show, but they later divorced.
MacRae also appeared in several films, including Caged and Bikini Beach, starred on Broadway and made guest TV appearances on game shows, including What's My Line? and The Hollywood Squares
She had a recurring role on General Hospital and was featured on the 1990s hit series Parenthood and Murder, She Wrote.(Source: E! On Line)
Heather, you are in my thoughts and prayers. 

Thank you ALL mentioned in this blog for the gifts you have given to the world and continue to give!

 With grateful XOXOXs ,

Check out my site celebrating the FIRST Fifty years of  Hello, Dolly!

I desire this to be a definitive account of Hello, Dolly!  If any of you reading this have appeared in any production of Dolly, I'm interested in speaking with you!

If you have anything to add or share, please contact me at


Please do what YOU can to be more aware that words and actions DO HURT...but they can also heal and help!                

Here's to an INCREDIBLE tomorrow for ALL...with NO challenges!

Keeping Entertainment LIVE!
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